Eagle Mountain Trail
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Nearest Entry Point: Eagle Mountain Trail #79 Fishing: There are northern pike in Whale Lake
Maps: Fisher F-6; McKenzie #3 or #21 Trail Water Views: Crosses Whale Creek and passes along Whale Lake
Fire History:
Wildlife Seen on Visit: None
Campsites: 2 (both are near Whale Lake) Highest Trail Elevation: 2301 feet
Last Visited: August 22, 2015 Scenic Overlooks: Whale Lake, Whale Creek, Eagle Mountain Summit
  Trail Connections and Trailheads:
Connections: Brule Lake Trail
Trailheads: Entry Point #79

Eagle Mountain Trail

Tofte Ranger District

The Eagle Mountain Trail leads to the summit of Eagle Mountain over a total one way distance of around 3.7 miles. Eagle Mountain at 2,301 feet is the highest point in Minnesota and the highest point for over 500 miles in any direction. The lowest point in Minnesota is the shoreline of Lake Superior at 602 feet above mean sea level.

This is a very popular trail on weekends. The best time to do the trail is probably in the fall when color is at a maximum. The spring is when the trail is most soggy. Summer is sometimes buggy. The parking lot is often filled and sometimes you need to park on the road. The surface of the trail is similar to a heavily traveled BWCA portage; it is always easy to follow. The trail is well maintained for the first 50 rods or so and then starts to resemble a typical well traveled BWCA portage. There are a few areas along the trail that are marshy, but these areas have board plank crossings erected. Several other places are very rocky and require a little care with footing. The only strenuous part of the Eagle Mountain Trail is the last 0.8 miles or so beyond Whale Lake. This part of the trail heads up to the summit. This last stretch will leave folks in average shape sucking some wind. Almost everyone visiting the Eagle Mountain Trail is doing the trail on a BWCA day permit. You need to fill one out before beginning your hike. The Eagle Mountain Trail begins outside of the BWCA, but enters the designated wilderness area where it crosses Whale Creek. If you plan on camping overnight, you need to go through the regular BWCA permit process and get a permit for Entry Point #79. There are two campsites along the trail, both in the Whale Lake area.

The Eagle Mountain Trail is connected to the Brule Lake Trail. You can find the intersection of the two trails, which is marked with a sign, at the northwest corner of Whale Lake, at the same place the Eagle Mountain Trail gets steep and heads for the summit of Eagle Mountain.

You will know you are at the top of Eagle Mountain when you reach the large rock with the sign embedded into it. There are two vista viewing areas near the top where the forest doesn't block your view. The true summit is near the second wide vista where you can see several lakes off in the distance. From the first vista area, there are surprisingly no lakes to be seen. The trail that leads to the actual summit (often marked by cairns) leads back into the woods. It is about a three to five minute walk depending on pace. There are no views from the true summit of Eagle Mountain.

When you first reach Whale Lake, there is a very scenic vista of a large hill/mountain across the lake. This is NOT Eagle Mountain. Rather, this is a sister peak that is about 80 feet shorter than Eagle Mountain at about 2,220 feet. The saddle that separates Eagle Mountain from this unnamed sister peak is at an elevation around 2,020 feet.

Hiking the Eagle Mountain Trail

The following hike along the Eagle Mountain Trail is shown in order, exactly as you will see it if starting from the Eagle Mountain Trail parking lot and following the trail all the way to near the summit of Eagle Mountain. At the bottom of this page is a link to go to a different page on this website where you can explore the actual area around the summit. The lookout areas near the summit of Eagle Mountain provide some awesome views of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota.

Eagle Mountain Trailhead MN
Open the box on the right of the bulletin board and fill out your BWCA day permit since the Eagle Mountain Trail enters the Boundary Waters Canoe Area within the first mile. Permits are in the box as long as a handy pencil. With permit in hand, head off to the left down the trail. The first 50 rods are particularly well maintained by the U.S. Forest Service.

A brief jaunt around the parking lot and you then head past the bulletin board and start hiking toward Eagle Mountain.

Eagle Mountain Trail BWCA
A marker to recognize a prominent support of the Eagle Mountain Trail.

This part of the trail covers the section from Mile Marker 0.02 (near start) to 0.3. Distances are approximate. Eagle Mountain is the highest point in Minnesota and is in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).

Eagle Mountain Trail Minnesota
A rock outcropping exposed along the trail.

This part of the trail covers the section from Mile Marker 0.4 to 0.5. Distances are approximate.

This part of the trail covers the section from Mile Marker 0.5 to 0.6. The trail just continues to pass through the woods. There is little elevation change until you reach Whale Lake. Distances are approximate.

This part of the trail covers the section from Mile Marker 0.6 to 1.1. You enter the BWCA around a mile from the parking lot. This is where the trail crosses Whale Creek over a wooden bridge. Distances are approximate.

Eagle Mountain Trail BWCA
At this point you officially enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The wooden bridge you see to the right of the sign is that to facilitate the crossing of Whale Creek.

Whale Creek BWCA
Whale Creek. A wooden bridge crosses over the creek.

Eagle Mountain Trail Boundary Waters
There are many boggy areas along the trail that support pretty flowers like this, but also require a board walk crossing to keep the trail from causing erosion. In the spring, the trail is much wetter and there is often standing water in these areas.

Eagle Mountain Trail

Eagle Mountain Trail Minnesota

This section of trail covers the section from Mile Marker 1.0 to 2.0. Distances are approximate. This section of the trail crosses Whale Creek, a long boardwalk over a bog and several other shorter boardwalk crossings.

This part of the trail covers the section from Mile Marker 2.0 to 2.5. Distances are approximate. Continuing along through the forest. You are getting closer to Whale Lake.

This part of the trail covers the section from Mile Marker 2.5 to 2.6. Distances are approximate.

Eagle Mountain Trail BWCA
The third set of plank crossings you must navigate as you traverse Eagle Mountain Trail.

Eagle Mtn MN
Looking back at the plank bridge crossing you just made.

You finally reach Whale Lake. This is at about mile marker 2.6.

Whale Lake along Eagle Mountain Trail in Minnesota
Your first view of Whale Lake. Up to this point, you have been traveling through forest with few views. There are more things to see from this point on.

Eagle Mountain Trail
A pretty view of some shade loving plants on the forest floor.

Eagle Mountain Trail view of Whale Lake
Whale Lake looking out from along its western shoreline.

Hiking along the western shore of Whale Lake. Occasionally pulling over to take a look at the lake. This part of the trail covers the section from Mile Marker 2.6 to 2.8. Distances are approximate.

Whale Lake from Eagle Mountain Tr
You are now near the northwestern corner of Whale Lake. This view is looking east.

The last section of the trail along Whale Lake before it comes to the intersection with the Brule Lake Trail. Approximate mileage section covered is 2.8 to 2.9 miles.

Brule Lake Trail and Eagle Mountain Trail Intersection
Decision time. Almost everyone goes to the left and up to the top of Eagle Mountain. The Brule Lake Trail gets probably 1% of the traffic (at most). To the right is the Brule Lake Trail and also how you get to a campsite that is on the north shore of Whale Lake.

A brief look at Whale Lake and then you continue down the trail. You soon come to the sign marking the intersection of the Brule Lake Trail and the Eagle Mountain Trail. You head to the left and the trail rapidly steepens. It is a slog from here to the summit of Eagle Mountain. This covers from mile 2.9 to about mile 3.4.

Campsite on Eagle Mountain Trail
A last look back at Whale Lake just after starting up the steeper section of the trail that leads to the top of Eagle Mountain.

The Eagle Mountain Trail in the BWCA
The trail is steep enough in this section to make most hikers huff and puff a bit.

Eagle Mountain Trail Minnesota

Another five minutes of uphill trodding and you finally reach the first overlook.

Eagle Mountain, Minnesota
This is your first reward. The views are better just a bit farther along the summit ridge.

You are almost to the top! Click to visit the Summit of Eagle Mountain.

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